Nov 7th, 2011 | By | Category: Lifestyle, Health & Fitness

First Responder Help for Seniors with Mental Health Problems

Many of us senior citizens have experienced times when loved ones and friends have exhibited really strange behavior, and we didn’t know what to do or how to respond. Aunt Lizzie suddenly breaks into tears at the drop of a hat with no observable provocation.  Uncle Lester begins talking to himself, as if there were someone in the room only he can see.  Cousin Joe is lying in the bed after surgery and sees the wall on fire. One’s elderly mother suddenly becomes paranoid about people stealing her jewelry and money.

If you have ever found yourself in this kind of situation, you probably wished you had the skills at least to know how to respond appropriately and get your loved one to a place where s/he could get some help.

The answer is Mental Health First Aid, “…a groundbreaking public education program that  helps the public identify, understand, and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders.” Mental Health First Aid USA is one such program, managed and operated three national groups acting in collaboration with each other — the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and the Missouri Department of Mental Health.

Training for Mental Health First Aid

Mental Health First Aid training generally

  • offers an overview of mental health issues and illnesses,
  • identifies risk factors (such as aging and medications),
  • outlines warning signs and symptoms,
  • reviews common treatment for mental health illness,
  • identifies referral resources in one’s local community for mental health treatment

People who take the first aid course are certified as Mental Health First Aiders, and are armed with an action plan they can use when confronted with someone experiencing mental health illness symptoms.

The value this training carries for senior citizens lies in increasing one’s ability to be helpful to family and friends who might experience emotional problems.  Most such issues can be treated successfully if identified early and treatment resources are sought immediately.  With Mental Health First Aid training, we seniors will be better equipped to be helpful when our loved ones are hit with common emotional problems.



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